Moby Dick is quite lengthy, but Melville doesn’t blather on without intent. He seems determined to provide the reader with a thorough education in all things cetological and somehow does so without acting the pedant.
A determined captain seeks his revenge against the white whale that took not only his leg, but his sanity and takes along an unsuspecting and somewhat motley crew.
The book’s narrator introduced with the infamous line, “Call me Ishmael”, is a naive young man when he sets out on the Pequod for what he hopes will be an adventure that turns into much more. Like the best of observers, he fades in the background, barely a grunt and not much noticed by the crew, but able to see, in great detail, all that is unfolding before him.
Queequeg, reportedly a cannibal, befriends Ishamael and shows him that differences in culture and religion do not preclude men from sharing a bond. Queequeg is a harpoon sharpshooter and exhibits great acts of courage and bravery, gaining the respect of the entire crew.
Captain Ahab is a man blinded by vengeance and cares only for exacting the justice he believes is his due. His recklessness endangers his crew, yet he seems unaware or unconcerned with their safety and leads them blindly into the depths of danger at sea.
Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more.
…and Heaven have mercy on us all–Presbyterians and Pagans alike–for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.
But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself.
There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.
And some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher, except to sell by the cartload, as they do hills about Boston, to fill up some morass in the Milky Way.
It should go without saying that my meeting with Mr. Melville would be aboard ship, with no particular destination in mind. His early years as teacher would make it easy to extract all the knowledge that seems overflowing in this great man. I’d particularly like to hear about his time on a whaler and other adventures at sea.
My rating for Moby Dick is an 8 out of 10.
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